Neuroscientific Approaches to the Study of Individual Differences in Cognition and Personality

  • Aljoscha C. Neubauer
  • Andreas Fink
Part of the The Springer Series on Human Exceptionality book series (SSHE)


In the particular field of the psychology of individual differences, the one that deals with cognitive performance probably has the longest and maybe the most comprehensive research tradition. Individual differences in cognitive ability, viz. intelligence, now span more than 100 years of research tradition, if we start from Francis Galton’s (1883) notion of intelligence as an inherited feature of an efficiently functioning central nervous system (CNS). While it is mostly known that his approach to measure CNS efficiency by using simple sensory and motor tasks (that he correlated with indices of success and accomplishment) was not particularly successful, later on his approach received extensive attention. Basically starting with Erwin Roth’s (1964) study on “Die Geschwindigkeit der Informationsverarbeitung und ihr Zusammenhang mit Intelligenz” (The relationship of speed of information processing to intelligence), considerable evidence on the relationship between basic information processing characteristics of individuals and their measured cognitive ability (now using psychometric intelligence tests) has been collected. Some of the most highly visible intelligence researchers who deal with this line of research, recently provided excellent reviews (Deary, 2000; Jensen, 2006) showing that there is an overwhelming evidence for a positive relationship between speed of information processing and psychometric intelligence. Proponents of this line of research often refer to the basic quality of such elementary cognitive tasks (ECTs), assuming that they measure relatively close to fundamental processes of the brain. Recently, a second important elementary cognitive approach to human intelligence has collected a considerable body of evidence for a relationship of working memory and central executive functioning with psychometric intelligence (e.g., Collette & van der Linden, 2002; Conway, Cowen, Bunting, Therriault, & Minkoff, 2002; Engle, Tuholski, Laughlin, & Conway, 1999; Smith & Jonides, 2003).


Alpha Band Divergent Thinking Cortical Arousal Alpha Frequency Band Emotional Face Processing 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Psychology, Karl-Franzens-University GrazGrazAustria

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